ARTA performs volte face in NOW Telecom case

24 Jun 2022

The Philippines’ Anti Red Tape Authority (ARTA) has overturned its earlier ruling and in the process, set aside the ‘Declaration of Completeness and Order of Automatic Approval’ it previously issued to NOW Telecom (NOW Network) and the telco’s sister company News and Entertainment Network Corporation (Newsnet). Local press reports note that ARTA issued two separate Resolutions on 17 June 2022, siding with the previous ruling handed down by the Department of Justice (DOJ) on 9 July 2021 that has become ‘final and executory and affirmed the authority of the National Telecommunication Commission (NTC) in assigning and use of frequency’.

As previously reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, on 31 March 2022 ARTA issued a resolution throwing out a motion filed for reconsideration by the telecoms regulator and declared NOW Telecom’s application for cellular mobile telephone system (CMTS) provisional authority as complete. The operator’s efforts to secure a toehold in the mobile broadband market have been hindered for more than a decade, but the provisional authority covered rights to use 220MHz of spectrum ranging from 1970MHz-1980MHz, paired with 2160MHz to 2170MHz and 3.6GHz to 3.8GHz, including 5G frequencies for mobile and fixed wireless broadband. An order of automatic approval was issued by ARTA on 1 March 2021. Subsequently, in April ARTA granted its approval for NOW Telecom’s application for an automatic extension of its mobile licence permits, thus paving the way for it to offer mobile broadband services across the country. However, the country’s third telco DITO Telecommunity Corp, whose frequency was affected by ARTA’s earlier decision, reportedly filed a complaint against ARTA’s original decision and the anti-red tape body has now changed its decision.